Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Brenda Margriet (@brendamargriet) reviews The Emotion Thesaurus by @AngelaAckerman


The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression
By Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisis

One of the biggest problem areas for writers is conveying a character's emotions to the reader in a unique, compelling way. This book comes to the rescue by highlighting 75 emotions and listing the possible body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for each.

Written in an easy-to-navigate list format, readers can draw inspiration from character cues that range in intensity to match any emotional moment. The Emotion Thesaurus also tackles common emotion-related writing problems and provides methods to overcome them.

This writing tool encourages authors to show, not tell emotion and is a creative brainstorming resource for any fiction project.
(Goodreads description)



Review

This is an amazingly helpful, well thought out book that every writer should have handy.

We all know we're supposed to show, not tell. Don't tell "Joe is sad." Show "Joe's shoulders slumped and his eyes brightened with unshed tears." And that's a prime example of how writer's can easily fall into the cliche trap when showing.

THE EMOTIONAL THESAURUS lists emotions, and then gives all the physical signals, mental responses and internal sensations associated with that emotion. It includes cues for if the emotion is acute or has been felt over the long-term, and suggests other connected emotions. It even gives tips on what a person might look like if they are suppressing that emotion.

What this does is lift you out of the usual descriptions, and helps you brainstorm new ways of portraying that feeling.

It is truly one of the most helpful writing books I've ever come across.

About the Reviewer

Brenda Margriet's first novel, Mountain Fire is currently available on Kindle.  It will be released January 9, 2013 by The Wild Rose Press for other e-formats.  She lives in Northern British Columbia with her husband, three children (all of whom are taller than her) and various finny and furry pets. By day she is Creative Director at the local television station, and by night she pecks away at her works in progress.  Find out more at www.brendamargriet.com.



Friday, November 23, 2012

Arcadia's Gift only 99¢ on #Kindle through #CyberMonday!

I'm new to the whole KDP Select thing, and trying out some new promotion methods. For my first baby step, I decided to place my novel YA paranormal romance, Arcadia's Gift, on sale for 99¢ during Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday.  So far it has been going beautifully!  I owe much of the success to my family and friends for promoting me on their Facebook and Twitter pages.  I have the best Street Team ever!  

There is still time to get your copy before the price goes back to the normal retail price.  Get it while it's hot!

Arcadia's Gift (Arcadia Trilogy)

Most people who experience death don’t live to tell about it.

When sixteen year old Arcadia “Cady” Day wakes in a hospital after experiencing what can only be called a psychic episode, she finds her family in tatters. With her twin sister gone, her dad moved out, her mom’s spiraling depression and her sister’s boyfriend, Cane, barely able to look at her, the only bright spot in her life is Bryan Sullivan, the new guy in school. When Bryan’s around, Cady can almost pretend she’s a regular girl, living a regular life; when he’s not, she’s wracked with wild, inexplicable mood swings. As her home life crumbles and her emotional control slips away, Cady begins to suspect that her first psychic episode was just the beginning…


"Cady--short for Arcadia--is an appealing heroine, and I enjoyed cheering for her as she confronted the tragic death of her twin sister, the collapse of her family, the vicissitudes of teenage romance, and the amazing discovery of her gift." --Mike Mullin, Author of ASHFALL.

"Arcadia's Gift" is a poignant story of loss, love and hope. A must read for all young adult paranormal romance fans!" -- Charlotte Abel, author of Kindle bestsellers, Enchantment and Taken

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Five star review: Cleanse Fire by Anastasia V. Pergakis @avpergakis



Cleanse Fire 
By Anastasia V. Pergakis

Complete the mission, no matter what...

Captain Derac Vidor has served Kinir for nearly twenty years. It's his life, his blood. And then his Commander betrays everything Derac holds dear. Now he has to focus on his own life and his team instead of saving the citizens of Kinir.

Treason is only the beginning...

Fueled by rage, the team chases the source to their Commander's betrayal - a powerful wizard bent on revenge. The wizard seeks to destroy the Kinir Elite, in both mind and body. No place is safe, even among their allies.

The past holds the key...

Derac's tragic past may be the key to saving the team. But can he face the gruesome nightmare in time?
(Amazon description)



I have to admit, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read this book.  I don’t read a lot of high fantasy.  Not because I have any particular problem with it, I’m just not drawn to it the way some people are.  But I have been hearing a lot about this book, so I thought I’d give it a shot.  Turns out, that was a good call!

For me, a good book is one that I can connect to emotionally.  The book opens with a highly emotional scene where Derac, the Captain of an Elvin military unit called the Kinir Elite, loses his wife in a fire.  The visual of this scene was so disturbing I immediately became emotionally connected with Derac. 

The story picks up ten years later--Derac is still the successful Captain of the Elite, but he has never really been able to move on from his guilt over the loss of his wife.  When he first begins to feel attraction to Kie, an archer in his unit, he is hesitant to act on his feelings.  I found the love story that grew up around these two characters refreshing in its slowness.  There was no insta-love.  These were two adults who acted like adults.  Their mission came first at all times.  They might have wanted to rip each other’s uniforms off, but they help off, prolonging the sexual and romantic tension. 

While I am always sucked in the love story, the main plot of this novel was a military story, full of strategy, battles and intrigue.  I loved the way the author described the battle communication among the members of the group, made up of a mixture of hand signals and whistles.  Something about it felt so...elfish, maybe?  Almost like how animals might communicate when coordinating an attack.  Not that these characters are animalistic in any way, but it was a subtle reminder that they were not humans, dependent on speech and electronic devices to communicate.  Very well done.

The characterization was also great.  Each member of the Kinir Elite had a distinct personality and skill that added to the group.  Derac, as Captain, is a natural leader.  He is smart, strategic and brave.  Rakan is the experienced veteran soldier in the group, rough around the edges, but trustworthy and tough.  Tyn is Derac’s best friend.  Without him, I think Derac might have become so overcome in his grief after the loss of his wife, that it might have rendered his useless.  Tyn prevents Derac from taking himself too seriously, constantly teasing him and drawing him out.  I would love to see a future book which revolves around Tyn.  Jardel is the young soldier, full of youth and spirit.  While he is very good in a fight, he also is a bit like a naughty puppy.  Too cute to really get angry at when he is bad.  Aeli and Kie are the two women in the group and are opposite in every way.  Aeli is vain and feminine, but also smart and loyal.  She is easily under estimated.  Kie is a tom-boy with a troubled past.  I appreciated that the author did not make her too angsty or snarky.  She doesn’t have a chip on her shoulder.  Instead, she bravely faces the things that frighten her most. 

My only semi-criticism of the book is that a few times I felt like things worked out a little too easy.  For example, when Aeli’s loyalty is questioned, Derac decides to trust her right away, not really exercising the caution that I think he should have.  Of course, it turned out that she was loyal to the group, but Derac didn’t know that. 

Cleanse Fire is the first book in the Kinir Elite series.  It was very well written, and I will definitely be reading the next book when it releases. 

Overall, I give Cleanse Fire...

Plot - 4 1/2 bookmarks
Character development - 5 bookmarks
Love Story - 4 1/2  bookmarks
Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading)  -  Henry Cavil (Derac), Keira Knightly (Kie), Sean Patrick Flanery (Tyn), Rosamund Pike (Aeli), Sean Bean (Rakan), Armie Hammer (Jardel)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

5 Stars for PRICELESS by Shannon Mayer @TheShannonMayer #Kindle




When children go missing without a trace, there is only one person who can find them.

Welcome to the world of Rylee Adamson, a woman with unique abilities, some wild friends and a unstoppable drive to save those who can't save themselves.

But when the details of a missing child duplicate that of her worst case, things start to get freaky. And not in a good way.
(Amazon description)



So my hubby walked in last night to find me laying on the floor of the living room laughing over my Kindle.  If that isn’t the sign of a good book, I don’t know what is. 

Priceless is the perfect blend of everything I like in a book--a kick-ass heroine, intriguing mystery, an assortment of paranormal creatures, well-timed comic relief and a red hot lust/hate relationship. 

Rylee is my kind of heroine.  She has supernatural talent, yet is fallibly human.  I like that things don’t always go her way...well ever.  But whether she is leading high speed car chases running from the law, fighting harpies with her trusty blades or going toe-to-toe with magic wielding kidnappers, she’s somehow able to maintain her softness--or maybe a better word is compassion.  After having been abandoned first by her biological parents and again by her adoptive parents, Rylee knows what it’s like to be alone in the world.  As a result, she has dedicated her whole life to helping those in need.  It goes deeper than just rescuing missing children; she is like a beacon to those in need.  This adds a surprising amount of emotional depth to the story.

Regular readers of my reviews know I’m all about the love story.  My favorites are those that are able to balance lust, affection and antagonism. The relationship between Rylee and Agent O’Shea has all of these elements.  Our first introduction to O’Shea is as the FBI agent who has been trying for ten years to prove Rylee murdered her little sister.  She didn’t do it, but O’Shea is too haunted by the unsolved case to see past his prejudice against Rylee.  When the tables turn and he is forced to place his trust in her, O’Shea finds everything he has even known about the world turned upside down.  I loved the way the author handled this relationship.  There is no insta-love here, more like a slow burn.  This is a love story that is meant to roll out over the course of a series, not wrap up with a nice tight bow at the end of the book.  I am so excited to see what happens with this couple.

One of the other strengths of this book is the use of humor.  The dark subject matter and gruesomeness of this story could have caused the book to be too heavy.  Witty dialog and Rylee’s sidekick, Alex the werewolf, keep the book from taking itself too seriously.  Remember my husband walking in on me laughing at my Kindle?  Yeah, that was Alex.  

About the only character that I didn’t like was Rylee’s best friend Milly.  She’s a witch--literally.  Even though the two are as close as sisters, she dumps Rylee because her Coven doesn’t want her to associate with people outside their group.  (This isn’t really a spoiler.  It happens right at the beginning of the book.)  I found Milly to be weak and annoying.  Her efforts to redeem herself at the end of the book fell flat with me.  I assume as the series goes on Milly will either develop a spine or do something so stupid Rylee will sick Alex on her. 

All in all, Priceless is an amazing start to a fun new urban fantasy series.  I can’t wait to see where this is going!

Plot - 5 bookmarks (lots of action!)
Character development - 4 1/2 bookmarks (Lots of depth to Rylee. Now we need to see where O’Shea how O’Shea is going to grow.)
Action - 5 bookmarks
Love story - 4 1/2 bookmarks
Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Gemma Arterton (Rylee), David Boreanaz (O’Shea), Blake Lively (Milly), Frances McDormand (Giselle)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Reviewer @Aprilelayne1 gives 5 stars to Wander Dust by Michelle Warren, @MMichelleWarren.




Wander Dust 
By: Michelle Warren

Ever since her sixteenth birthday, strange things keep happening to Seraphina Parrish.
The Lady in Black burns Sera’s memories.
Unexplainable Premonitions catapult her to other cities.
The Grungy Gang wants to kill her.
And a beautiful, mysterious boy stalks her.

But when Sera moves to Chicago, and her aunt reveals their family connection to a centuries old, secret society, she is immediately thrust into an unbelievable fantasy world, leading her on a quest to unravel the mysteries that plague her. In the end, their meanings crash into an epic struggle of loyalty and betrayal, and she’ll be forced to choose between the boy who has stolen her heart and the thing she desires most.
(Barnes & Noble description)



My first ever true YA book, I won it in a giveaway and was hesitant to even start it until the blogger egged me on to jump in.  I had always read adult, action, gritty and sexy paranormal books with cursing and violence (not erotica), so this book was a big departure.  The blogger, Jacque, had basically challenged me to broaden my interests and this book was her ammunition for the challenge.

I had to fold and admit defeat before 25% into the book. She was right…and yes it stings to say/type that out loud.  This book amazed me, it had the hints of supernatural senses AND reminders of Michael Crichtons’ science driven, but historical fiction of Timeline.  The main characters are high school aged, which let the language and style of writing be easy and a quick read for an adult reader.  I wish I could have read this type of book when I was Sera’s age.  The high school friendships, crushes, jealousy and cliques all apply in Sera’s new world just like everywhere else.  High school is still high school even at special schools or special powers. Just ask Harry Potter, sometimes being in high school sucks no matter what.

Back to Wander Dust though!  In typical fashion, the main character, Sera, is dumped by her father to live with the quirky Aunt and only blood connection to her passed mother.  Yes, its been done before time and time again, but the tale that gets woven forwards and backwards was fascinating.  It truly is one of the books that once you read the end, you want to re-read the beginning now that you know the end? “Fight Club,” “Matrix,” “Sixth Sense?” Yep, that kind of awareness that makes you want to start it again to find the hints that you didn’t know were there the first time around! (No, Sera is not unknowingly dead, a prophet, or have split personalities…oops I guess I did spoil the movies! But not the book!!) She is a solidly written character with a world that could grow with her for many years and books.

A definite read for younger readers, Wander Dust has elements of science fiction, supernatural, and your everyday teenager rites of passage.



About the Reviewer

Aprilelayne, yes all one word, touts herself as a 'Jane of all trades.' An Army brat who ended up in Austin, Texas, she has two full-time jobs --motherhood and work-work (aka: the paying gig). She spends her time trying to master any one of her many hobbies, but really loves to read anything off the beaten path--especially the dark and twisty ones.  On any given day you'll likely find her in the kitchen with a toddler hanging onto a leg sneaking peeks at a book while stirring something on the stove. You can currently find Aprilelayne on GoodReads and Twitter @Aprilelayne1.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Reviewer @Aprilelayne1 gives 5 stars to Witchy, Witchy by @_WendyBird_




Witchy, Witchy                                                                                                          By: Penelope King


When Calista McCoy moves from the slums of the Louisiana Bayou to an illustrious beach community in California, she knows her life is going to take a drastic turn. But once she arrives at the beautiful mansion by the sea, dark secrets are revealed...secrets that become even more complicated when she meets the gorgeous neighbor boy, Nicholas, and she feels an unexplainable--and undeniable--attraction.

Her new life seems almost too good to be true. But as everyone knows, when something seems too good to be true, it usually is.
(Amazon description)




...And in Calista's case, it could be deadly.

This was one of the highlights of the year for me, seriously I just read the book a couple weeks ago and can already see myself reading it again!

Penelope King has poetically created an enchanting world of Calista McCoy, her lovable but na├»ve father, and her new found life at a new school with new friends, and new secrets.  I fell in love not only with the characters, but with the style, pace, and overall sense of writing.  Witchy,Witchy is one of very few YA books I’ve read lately that I truly agree with the genre classification and would encourage young girls to read this.  Just like the beautiful but modest cover, there is an innocent feel in the writing and maturity in the characters.  Her new found friends and their bond does pay homage to the “Charmed” television show, but for a younger generation reading this book it definitely works.

If you are looking for YA angst and true sexual tension, look elsewhere.  The limited sexuality is bland, another reviewer called it ‘vanilla,’ which is true and one of the best things I enjoyed in this book.  I have since read another YA book involving a 16 year old and fought my discomfort with the amount of sexuality for the age.  I had no qualms or discomfort in reading this book, the ‘vanilla’ sexuality is just right for the main character’s age (or at least my comfort as a reader and parent.) 

Witchy, Witchy is a gem of a story that I would encourage young ladies as young as 12 to jump into.  There is magical action, sisterly friendships, and the appropriate amount of romance that a story of a modern world 16 year old should have.

About the Reviewer

Aprilelayne, yes all one word, touts herself as a 'Jane of all trades.' An Army brat who ended up in Austin, Texas, she has two full-time jobs --motherhood and work-work (aka: the paying gig). She spends her time trying to master any one of her many hobbies, but really loves to read anything off the beaten path--especially the dark and twisty ones.  On any given day you'll likely find her in the kitchen with a toddler hanging onto a leg sneaking peeks at a book while stirring something on the stove. You can currently find Aprilelayne on GoodReads and Twitter @Aprilelayne1.